KARACHI: While asking authorities to explain the mechanism for determination of oil prices, the Supreme Court has ordered the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and all oil marketing companies to submit details pertaining to qualification and employment tenure of their top officials.
Hearing a case against the hike in petroleum prices, an SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, on Friday summoned top officials including secretary petroleum, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) managing director and Ogra’s top executives.
The PSO managing director told the court that the country has 22 licenced companies engaged in import of petroleum products. He said the rates of petrol products are determined by averaging the international prices for the last five days of a month.
The court, however, asked the authorities to submit a detailed report explaining the mechanism behind the determination of oil prices. It also ordered to cut prices of petrol within ten days and present details pertaining to qualification and recruitment procedures of the chief executives of the oil companies.
The court did not admit the reports submitted by PSO, Ogra and Ministry of Petroleum and adjourned the hearing till July 5. It also advised authorities to detail the calculation behind oil prices.
Earlier, the CJP told the top officials that the court will not accept any attempt of procrastination in this regard. “You people appear to only spend your office time gossiping,” the CJP said in his remarks.
The PSO managing director told the CJP that he had arrived at the court on its request. However, the chief justice told him that it was an order of the court and not just a ‘request’.
He also lambasted the MD for providing inadequate information and said he to be engaged in profiteering deals with the oil dealers. The CJP also censured the Ogra chairman for his failure to appear in the court.
The PSO MD told the court that the cabinet was the final approver of the oil prices. However, the CJP remarked that the cabinet committees and their meeting minutes could not present verification of the mechanism behind pricing, indicating a wide room for loopholes.
The FBR chairman told the bench that the levy for GST had been reduced to lessen the burden on consumers. The CJP, however, remarked that the claim that authorities had been exercising restraint while increasing prices was false as the price of petrol has reached Rs91.96 per litre.
Responding to the argument that Pakistan has the lowest fuel prices in the region, the CJP remarked that the court would not admit such fabricated stories and that such claims would not be admitted.
“We are witnessing nepotism and plunder in dealerships. Politicians and feudal lords have set up petrol pumps,” he said. The CJP later demanded a report detailing academic qualifications and employment tenures of the top officials working for oil marketing companies.